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Tag:Brian Sabean
Posted on: March 6, 2012 7:06 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 11:00 am
 

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

MESA, Ariz. -- Ears perked up, perhaps, by new manager Dale Sveum discussing him as a potential cleanup man the other day, beleaguered Cubs veteran Alfonso Soriano sure looked the part Tuesday.

Granted, it was March 6. Yes, the Colorado Rockies essentially are holding tryouts for their rotation and Guillermo Moscoso and Zach Putnam won't remind anyone of Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson anytime soon. And true, making hasty spring training judgments is more dangerous than crossing the desert with no water.

On the flip side, when you've had your ears pinned back with boos while disappointing as much as Soriano has over the past couple of seasons ... maybe a little confidence boost can go a long way.

Batting fourth against the Rockies on Tuesday, Soriano absolutely crushed a Moscoso pitch in the second inning, drilling it off of the scoreboard behind the left-field seats. Then, after doubling against Alex White -- another Rockies' starting pitcher wannabe -- he ripped another homer, this one in the fifth against Putnam. He finished with three RBIs.

"Second game, and I'm starting to feel good with my swing and with my timing," Soriano said. "That made me feel good."

Normally, Soriano said, it takes him somewhere between 20 and 25 at-bats before he begins feeling good in the spring. So you might say he's already in mid-spring form.

"My goal is to have a lot of at-bats and feel comfortable at the plate," Soriano, who batted .244 with 26 homers and 88 RBI last season, said of the spring. "I want to show my teammates and show the Cubs that I'm here to play the game. It doesn't matter if I lead off, I'm here to do my job."

Soriano, a leadoff man in the past, lost that gig in 2009 under Lou Piniella. Slogging along at the plate for too long, Soriano mostly hit seventh (221 plate appearances) last year, with some sixth (186) and fifth (94) mixed in.

Aggressively shopped over the winter by new president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, and booed at the Cubs Convention over the winter, Soriano said he doesn't care where he hits in the lineup.

"Not really," he said. "I'm just preparing my mind. It doesn't matter to me if I lead off or hit fourth or fifth."

Wherever Sveum thinks he can best help the club, the affable Soriano said, he's happy to hit there.

Sveum has said he'd like to give rookie first baseman Bryan LaHair the opportunity to hit in the cleanup spot in the order. But right out of the gate, that would appear to be pushing it for a rookie. If Soriano can have a good spring and own the cleanup spot, that will take some of the heat off of LaHair as well as give the Cubs a boost.

Plus, the only way the Cubs likely will be able to trade him is if he gets off to a hot start, and a contender impressed with his April, May and June comes calling. Soriano has three years and $54 million remaining on his contract. The under-new-management Cubs have been so desperate to move him that sources say they will eat a significant portion of the contract if they can deal him.

This spring, though, Soriano, 36, will keep his blinders on and prepare for 2012.

He wants to get as many spring at-bats as he can.

"The more I take, the more I feel comfortable at home plate," he said. "If I can get 50, 60, 100 ... my goal is to be ready for opening day."

Last spring, he checked in with 64 at-bats.

This spring, if many more of them go as they did Tuesday, maybe Soriano can write a happy ending yet.

Sunblock day? Nice and hot, in the 80s, with a bright, warm sun and a cloudless, blue sky. Perfect spring training weather. And great convertible day.

Likes: Cool old huge photo of Ron Santo on the door greeting those entering the press box at the Cubs' HoHoKam Park. Very striking, and a great tribute. ... Looking forward to watching Yu Darvish's Cactus League debut Wednesday. ... Every time I visit Scottsdale Stadium, it's reinforced that it's the best thing going. ... Reminiscing about former major leaguers and legendary scouts Pat Dobson and Ted Uehlander with Giants general manager Brian Sabean. Each of those men, special assistants to Sabean before passing away, was a terrific baseball character, and it brightened your day to run into them. I miss seeing Dobber and Ted around the spring training trails. ... The fried calamari at the Italian Grotto in Scottsdale.

Dislikes: Freddy Sanchez, Giants' second baseman -- will he ever again be healthy enough to be the player many thought he would become? Discuss.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hold tight to your anger
"And don't fall to your fears"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball
Posted on: November 29, 2011 5:13 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 5:28 pm
 

Giants' Sabean: 'I don't anticipate a big splash'

The news peg for the Giants on Tuesday was the ballclub extending the contracts of general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy through 2013, with club options for 2014.

That order of business out of the way, understand this as the Giants charge full-speed ahead -- such as it is -- toward building their 2012 team this winter: Those fabled splash hits at AT&T Park are a far different thing from a big splash free agent signing.

"There won't be a big splash," Sabean said on a conference call Tuesday afternoon. "We are in concert through Larry Baer [club president] and our partnership that our pitching is our gold standard.

"Whatever we attempt, we have to make sure we take care of that commodity first."

San Francisco's clear goal this winter is to beef up an offense that ranked 29th in the majors in runs scored last summer.

But that also likely will not include another free agent, one who finished 2011 with the Giants: Outfielder Carlos Beltran.

"A lot of conversations," Sabean said. "We're going to have a conference-call update [internal] on where we're at after this call.

"I would say it's a fluid situation, as well as other situations we're in on."

Baer confirmed that the Giants expect to manage a 2012 payroll of about $130 million, up a tick from the $125 million at which San Francisco finished the season. That doesn't leave much wiggle room for normal arbitration raises, let alone free agency.

"The best way to phrase it is, he is a consideration but [length of contract] will be an issue with anybody we pursue," Sabean said of Beltran. "Whether it's him or anybody else. We have a very definitive game plan on each conversation on what we think is a reasonable length."

As they look to upgrade their offense, the logical areas for the Giants -- who already have traded for Melky Cabrera this winter -- are a corner outfield slot or shortstop. One thing Sabean and Bochy will hash out in the coming days is whether they think Brandon Crawford, who started last season at Class A San Jose, is capable of playing there every day in the majors.

Sabean watched Crawford in the Arizona Fall League and was impressed with Crawford's progress, however incremental.

"Around the end of the Fall League, he certainly was impressive," Sabean said. "I was able to see him in person quite a bit. We know what his glove brings. He's trying like hell to make adjustments at home plate. Albeit it's not major league pitching, but he's doing what we asked him to do -- put the ball in play, [swing at pitches] at the belt and below and stay off of the high fastball, which has been his kryptonite."

Crawford hit .204 with 22 runs scored in 64 games for the Giants last season. But unless Sabean can find a hidden gem, it sounds like he may get a real shot this spring. Forget Reyes, Jimmy Rollins right now isn't a fit in San Francisco's payroll.

"It's going to be a function of what's left in the payroll, and what the price point is," Sabean said of Rollins. "Any acquisition is in the eyes of the beholder. A sticker-shock-type, I don't anticipate a big splash. Or let's say a household name, per se."
 
 
 
 
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